On October 5, 2010, former President Barack Obama issued Executive Order 13554, establishing the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. The task force was formed in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil well explosion months earlier. 

On  April 20, 2010, a crew was working on the  Deepwater Horizon — a Transocean oil rig operated by BP —  in the Gulf of Mexico when a pipe was damaged, shooting out gas. But the emergency valve, or “blowout protector” failed and an explosion occurred when the gas hit the drill rig. Eleven workers on the rig were killed. 

Despite several attempts to stop the oil spillage in the gulf, it would go on for 87 days or nearly three months. Finally, on July 15, 2010,  a cap was put in place that successfully stopped the spill. By the time the cap was installed, approximately 3.2 million barrels (134 million gallons) of oil had spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. 

The task force, chaired by then-Environmental Protection Agency administrator and New Orleans native Lisa P. Jackson, consisted of officials from five Gulf states and 11 federal agencies. It was charged with coordinating ecosystem restoration efforts, establishing a science-backed accountability system and working with the Gulf Coast communities to prioritize the needs of Gulf residents. 

On December 5, 2011, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force (GCERTF) released its final Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Restoration Strategy, which would serve as the blueprint  for restoring the Gulf. 

The goals of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force included restoring water quality, maintaining the health of coastal and marine resources, and managing offshore environments. 

In the years since the spill, BP has paid out tens of billions of dollars in settlements,  damage assessment, clean-up research, and restoration projects. Restoration is still ongoing.

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Help inform our coverage as we build a newsroom for and by the people of New Orleans:

Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts with us by answering each question.

Shannon Stecker is a creative writer, a marketing director, and a lover of stories. She has spent the past 15 years of her career in a creative space – as a print and broadcast journalist, a freelance...